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A No-Brainer in Colorado: Funding for Birth Control

Posted by Mara Gandal-Powers, Counsel | Posted on: April 08, 2015 at 10:12 am

If I were to tell you that there was a program that helped women get the most effective forms of birth control and had reduced the teen birth rate by nearly 40% in four years, you’d probably say, “This is amazing, tell me more.”  If I told you that for every dollar invested in this program, the state had saved $5.85 in Medicaid costs, you might say, “You can’t argue with that math.” And if I told you that there was has an opportunity to continue this fantastic work, you’d probably say, “That’s a no-brainer, they should keep doing it.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be a no-brainer for some members of the Colorado state legislature.

The state legislature is currently debating whether it should fund the Department of Public Health and Environment to continue the Colorado Family Planning Initiative. The program, which helps women get access to long-acting reversible birth control (LARCs,) was started in 2009 with funding from a private donor. The funding ends in June. The program’s impact on the state cannot be overstated. There have been reductions in: unintended pregnancy; abortion rates; numbers of infants needing nutrition support; and, Medicaid spending on births. Women, children, families, and the state budget all benefitted from this program, so why is there any debate?

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The Mad Men Era is Over — But Sexual Harassment Isn’t

Posted by Katie Hegarty, Online Outreach Associate | Posted on: April 06, 2015 at 03:44 pm

Last night’s return of Mad Men found Joan and Peggy in a skin-crawlingly sexist shareholder meeting. Three male partners sat across the table from the women as they discussed changing the ad strategy for a pantyhose company—and the men made lewd, sexist innuendos. One of the men insinuated that the high quality of the pantyhose meant a customer could “pull them down over and over.”


Joan and Peggy are not new characters— and their run-ins with workplace harassment are not new either. Virtually every woman on the show faces sexism at least once. Peggy’s pregnancy in season one is played for fat jokes by her womanizing coworkers. And perhaps the hardest storyline for many women to watch was when Joan’s coworkers used her to close a deal, forcing her to make the “choice” to promise sex with a hesitant client…if he signs on the dotted line.

The problem isn’t that we’re unused to sexism. It’s that we expect the men on this show to let up already! But Mad Men airs Sunday nights, and that same story line is still playing out for women across America on Monday morning.

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March Jobs Report: Weak Job Growth, Black Women’s Unemployment Continues to Rise

Posted by Anne Morrison, Fellow | Posted on: April 03, 2015 at 03:06 pm

Today’s release of March’s jobs data reports a slowdown in job growth and other troubling signs for workers and the economy. Our analysis shows increases in unemployment for some vulnerable groups, and finds a sizable share of jobs added were in low-wage sectors.

The overall unemployment rate in March was unchanged from February at 5.5 percent, and the unemployment rate for adult women (20 and older) was likewise flat at 4.9 percent. However, adult African American women’s unemployment rate rose for the third month in a row, marking a troubling trend for 2015. At 9.2 percent, it is now a full percentage point higher than it was in December 2014. Unemployment rates also rose for adult Latinas and single mothers in March from February.

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SCOTUS and Medicaid: Another Threat to Women’s Health Care

Posted by Karen Davenport, Director of Health Policy | Posted on: April 01, 2015 at 05:23 pm

In a 5-4 ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court decided that health care providers cannot sue state Medicaid programs to enforce federal Medicaid law. In Armstrong v. Exceptional Child, Medicaid providers for individuals with developmental disabilities had sued Idaho over payment rates that, they argued, violated requirements in the Medicaid statute that require states to pay participating providers rates that ensure patients’ access to services.

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A Win for Peggy Young Means the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act is More Critical Than Ever

Posted by Abigail Bar-Lev, Fellow | Posted on: April 01, 2015 at 11:16 am

Cross-posted from Alliance for Justice’s blog

Last week, in a 6-3 ruling authored by Justice Stephen Breyer, the Supreme Court in Young v. UPS gave Peggy Young and lots of pregnant workers like her a victory. Peggy worked as a driver at UPS. When she got pregnant, she informed UPS that her doctor had advised her to avoid lifting more than 20 pounds during her pregnancy. However, Peggy was pushed onto unpaid leave because UPS refused to accommodate her, even though it accommodated other groups of workers, including those who required accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, those who lost their Department of Transportation certification, and those who needed lifting restrictions due to an on-the-job injury.

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New Guide for States on Implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014

Today, the National Women’s Law Center and CLASP are releasing Implementing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Reauthorization: A Guide for States.

Last November, Congress reauthorized CCDBG, our major federal child care program, for the first time since 1996. Key provisions in the new law support the following objectives:

  • Protecting the health and safety of children in care through more consistent standards and monitoring of standards.
  • Improving the quality of care, including through increased supports for child care providers.
  • Enabling families to more easily access child care assistance that supports stable and continuous care and that can be coordinated with other programs.
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Pregnant Workers Need More Than Lip Service

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: March 30, 2015 at 02:11 pm

First the good news: last Thursday night the Senate unanimously voted for providing pregnant workers with a right to workplace accommodations. Now the bad news: the measure is nonbinding and purely symbolic — unless the Senators who voted for it are held accountable for supporting the real thing.

The budget amendment, introduced by Senator Casey, Senator Shaheen, and Senator Murray, was the first opportunity for Senators to vote on accommodations for pregnant workers. And it was a big hit! Unanimous votes are not so typical in the Senate these days, even for nonbinding measures. In some ways, though, unanimous support for the measure isn't so surprising. After all, West Virginia, Illinois, and Delaware all unanimously passed bills requiring reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers in 2014, as did Philadelphia, D.C., Providence, and (the year before) New York City. Only one legislator voted against New Jersey's 2014 pregnancy accommodations law.

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Pregnant Workers Look to Congress to Strengthen Supreme Court Win

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: March 27, 2015 at 05:27 pm

Cross-posted from ACSLaw's blog

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court delivered an important victory for pregnant workers [PDF] when in a 6-3 ruling it revived Peggy Young’s pregnancy discrimination case against UPS and sent it back to the lower courts for further proceedings. In so ruling, the Supreme Court declined UPS’s invitation to read a key piece of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act completely out of the statute books. This decision should put employers on notice that when they exclude pregnant workers with medical needs from accommodations that they make for workers with disabilities or injuries, they do so at their legal peril. Nevertheless, the Court’s decision also requires a somewhat unpredictable and fact-intensive analysis of these sorts of pregnancy discrimination claims. As a result, individual pregnant women may still face real uncertainty as to their workplace rights, and individual employers may choose to take their chances in litigation rather than promptly providing accommodations to women who need them. Congress should act now to affirm and strengthen this decision, to ensure that no pregnant woman is forced to choose between her job and the health of her pregnancy.

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